Today's lunch update comes after an extended morning of drudgery and self-induced bad luck.
I stayed in the room till 11 when the rain stopped falling. Looking at the radar I figured I could go around it to the north and that worked for about a half hour. Then it started raining so hard and fast that all I could do was put my wallet in a ziplock bag and embrace the drenching.
I was pretty close to Desoto National Forest so I figured I'd go through that for the sake of curvy roads and good scenery. However, the combination of rain and lack of phone signal had me kind of winging it. This next part is going to seem obviously stupid to all of you but, because of a combination of previous experiences, the situation at hand, and various other intangibles, I decided that it would be a decent idea to head through the biggest part of the forest on a dirt road right after a rain storm.
It was 536 running east/west and it started out wide, flat, and we'll packed with gravel that was tightly embedded in the dirt, which wasn't soft.
For a while the running was pretty good and then I had a minor fish-tail going up a hill that clued me in to slow down some.
After that things got better and worse and better and worse. There were lots of intersecting dirt roads, none of them really marked, none of them really on the map except mine, so I had to ride a bit and check to see if my dot was still on the road. I had no signal so I was afraid to zoom or pan lest I accidentally clear the map cache and have nothing.
Occasionally, there were these concrete bridges where I could stop and regain my wits.
The riding was just treacherous beyond my ability to describe. The ground was so soft and unstable that I couldn't really steer without getting into an immediate tank slapper, even at 20 mph. I had to constantly pay attention to even the slightest lateral slope in the road and make sure I wasn't climbing it too much or the wheels would slip down it and try to go out from under me. I couldn't really avoid holes or anything unless I had like 100 feet to gently change directions.
Fortunately, there were tire marks from some vehicle that had been there before, maybe days before, and the ground was slightly more packed there. It was the smallest difference but it was all I needed in places. It was so sketchy. Like I couldn't turn my head to look ad anything, couldn't look at the map while moving, and had to concentrate on keeping my weight centered above the tires. Yet, at the same time, I had to remember to stay loose and let the bike find its way and not over control it. Trying to guess how out of shape to let it get before trying to take action was mentally fatiguing and I got big slides on a bunch of times and was sure I was going to fall but, somehow, managed to ride it out each time. Probably 20 times. Until I ran out of luck and dumped it.
I was about a half mile from pavement after almost 20 miles of white knuckled concentration and came upon a down-hill section where heavy trucks had squashed all the gravel out of the road and taken it down to wet clay. I tried to center up and take it straight through, nice and neutral, but the surface was undulating and slick as bacon fat. I countered a couple of slides then it was ass-left full lock and my foot kicking the ground and I just lost it. The peg dug in, spun it around, and there I was. Heavy bike on its side in the mud in the middle of nowhere.
But, thanks to the tall sissy bar, I had a good place to grab and stand it up.
Nothing got broken, I don't think, and I was only moderately dirty. Only problem was that I was pointed the wrong way.
Considering the rest of the events, turning around wasn't that bad and maybe ten minutes later I was at the end.
Now I'm having some Sonic before heading to the car wash.
What a mess...
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